At one point, the Hulk‘s greatest rival wasn’t the Leader or the Abomination but actor Freddie Prinze Jr. The She’s All That actor was enjoying a date with Bruce Banner’s ex-girlfriend Betty Ross which was interrupted by a fateful call from Banner. Eventually, the Hulk returned with a vengeance directed toward protecting Betty and killing Freddie although the latter was stopped by his former teammates, the Ultimates. Although he survived the first experience, the Ultimate version of the actor remained responsible for two of Banner’s most violent transformations simply because the infamous scientist couldn’t deal with his feelings and move on.
The Ultimates were the Avengers of a world that was created to introduce new readers to a modernized and non-continuity burdened version of Marvel characters. Bruce Banner was the former Hulk, a scientist who struggled and failed to crack the super-soldier serum at a time where the world scrutinized the necessity and expense of the Ultimates. Poorly treated by other Ultimates and his ex-girlfriend, SHIELD Public Relations Officer Betty Ross, Bruce saw an answer to his own feelings of inadequacy and helping to justify the Ultimates. He called to let Betty know, interrupting her much-talked-about date with Freddie Prinze Jr, that he combined some of Captain America’s blood with his Hulk serum and injected it into himself.
In the Ultimates #3-6 by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, the Hulk returned, stronger and now with grey skin, with a desire to find Freddie Prinze Jr in a way that certainly wasn’t friendly. Causing unexpected damage and loss of life, Hulk climbed up buildings like King Kong, out for the Actor’s head. While Hulk’s rampage was interrupted by the intervention of the Ultimates, Betty and Freddie were flown out of Manhattan which Hulk tried in vain to stop, declaring that he loved Betty and that she was the only person he had left in his dual life. Although the Hulk’s rampage ended when the Wasp rendered him unconscious by internally zapping a part of his brain, the Ultimates and the Ultimate universe would never be the same.
Around this time, Freddie Prinze Jr. had been involved in a series of movies with mixed critical responses and moderate box office success, his next movie portraying Fred Jones in Scooby-Doo alongside his real-life wife Sarah Michelle Gellar. His Ultimate counterpart has his ambition but not his marriage as Betty claims their date started with talking about him portraying Iron Man in the upcoming Ultimates movie but that he wouldn’t mind being the next super-soldier as well. The Ultimate Hulk is the living representation of all of Bruce Banner’s repressed emotions, showing himself as unhinged, lewd, sadistic, and ruthless. He admits he turned himself into the Hulk to give the Ultimates an enemy worth fighting for but he also did it because his love for Betty had become obsessive, the Hulk prepared to kill or even devour anyone who touches or even talks about her.
A year or two later, Bruce Banner is a fugitive who survived his public execution in Ultimates 2 but who still calls his ex-girlfriend only to say nothing and hang up. His creepy tradition is interrupted in India when a man picks up Betty’s phone, later revealed to be Freddie Prinze Jr. Although it doesn’t appear he recognizes the voice, this triggers another Hulk out in another crowded city whose destruction alerts SHIELD about Bruce’s living status. Although it appears the actor has buried the hatchet with the Hulk in real life, one can only imagine if the Hulk feels the same.